The Orlando Magic’s mid-December roster overhaul appears to be paying dividends.
The Magic shoot for a season-high seventh straight victory Wednesday night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who have dropped their last nine visits to Orlando.
Orlando (22-12) lost its first two games with Hedo Turkoglu(notes), Jason Richardson(notes), Gilbert Arenas(notes) and Earl Clark(notes) - the four players acquired Dec. 18 - to cap a 1-8 skid, but has since won six straight to vault back into the top tier of the Eastern Conference.
Turkoglu was the star in Monday’s 110-90 victory over Golden State, recording his third career triple-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. The Magic outscored the Warriors 66-37 in the second half to wipe away a nine-point halftime deficit.
“I’m glad I finally did something to help this team win,” said Turkoglu, averaging 12.5 points in eight games since returning to Orlando, where he played from 2004-09. “When I have the ball in my hands, I’m able to do the things I’m good at. My strength is to be the guy who is a facilitator, get my shot or find one for my teammates.”
Dwight Howard(notes) had 22 points and 17 rebounds against Golden State. Howard missed Orlando’s visit to Milwaukee on Dec. 4 due to a stomach virus, and the result was a 96-85 loss for the Magic. He sat out another loss at the Bradley Center in April 2009, due to a knee injury, but Orlando has beaten the Bucks (13-19) seven consecutive times when Howard has played.
Milwaukee’s futility in Orlando is even worse. The Bucks haven’t won there since Dec. 29, 2004 - a nine-game losing streak.
The Bucks fell to 5-12 on the road after Tuesday’s 101-89 loss in Miami. Andrew Bogut(notes), who scored a season-high 31 points and 18 rebounds with Howard out in the December meeting, finished with 16 points against the Heat.
Despite their subpar overall road mark, the Bucks have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas and Atlanta away from home and led Miami at halftime before being outscored 54-38 in the second half.
“When we were trying to keep contact with them and in the second half it got away from us,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We had a couple of missed layups, a couple of open jumpers. They took control of the game and we weren’t able to get back into it.”
It was the third loss in four games overall for the Bucks, who continue to struggle on offense. They’ve scored more than 100 only once in the last 16 games and six times all season. However, Skiles’ half-court style and focus on defense have helped limit Milwaukee’s opponents to 92.5 points per game, good for fourth in the NBA.